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Album Sun Jan 21 2007

Wincing the Night Away

The title of the new Shins album, Wincing the Night Away (Sub Pop Records)—to release on January 23, 2007—is a reference to lead singer James Mercer's "crippling insomnia." Nothing could better describe who the Shins are in 2007. They’ve spent two years struggling over this album—supposedly Mercer's insomnia stems from his drive for perfection and insecurity, which keeps him up late at night, agonizing over his work.

Wincing the Night Away doesn’t differ too much from the Portland-based indie pop band’s previous two albums—Oh, Inverted World (2001) and Chutes Too Narrow (2003). There's the particular brand of jangly pop, mashed up with the Beach Boy harmonies, and Mercer's all-pervasive, Brian Wilson voice. Still, this album is a darker, more somber affair. Take the song, "Sleeping Less," which starts out, surprisingly, with ambient tones, then flows into catchy, familiar Shins style pop. The lyrics describe the agony of sleeplessness—Go without / until the need seeps in.

Depression is nothing new for the Shins. In fact this is what has fueled the band’s music since they started playing together in Albuquerque in 1996. Mercer has said that moving from Germany to New Mexico at the age of twelve, and being thrust into the world of American teenage culture—where kids were having sex and doing drugs—made him feel like an outsider.

Songs like “Black Wave,” “Split Needles” and “Phantom Limb” play into the melancholic theme of the album. Yet, there are some free-spirited pop songs – “Australia,” “Sea Legs”—particularly impressive for its intricate and jubilant compilation—and the whimsical “Red Rabbit.” You can’t always decipher the lyrics too well, yet I felt the same way about “New Slang,” (popularized, largely, via the indie flick, Garden State) and I like the song immensely.

The overabundant fanfare surrounding the release of the new Shins album is telling of the band’s ever-increasing flirtation with the mainstream. On January 13, 2007, the Shins appeared on Saturday Night Live with Jake Gyllenhaal. On Tuesday, January 23, the day of the album’s release, they’ll make an appearance on “Late Night with Dave Letterman.”

On a smaller scale, Chicago-based Reckless Records is hosting a Shins CD Release Ping-Pong Party, on Monday, January 22 (9pm), at the Hideout. The Shins roll into Chicago on February 10, to perform at the Congress Theater ($25).

For their next album, the Shins will have another struggle besides insomnia to talk about—that thing called fame.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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